Can Your Thoughts Make You Gain Weight?

doctor puts a stethoscope to a man's head who is meditating

Mind/Body Medicine, the relationship between what you think (and feel) and how your body reacts is an accepted concept nowadays even with most traditional doctors. Your mind can control your body. Even automatic responses, such as your heart beating can be controlled by your thoughts. So can your thoughts make you gain weight? The answer is yes. 

Stressful Thoughts Create a Reaction in Your Body

When you see a scary movie or experience a shock your body reacts with a stress response. With those two examples, most often the stress ends quickly and your heart slows down to its normal speed. But when you have long lasting stress your body does not recover and you develop high cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. When you see your doctor with high blood pressure, besides a pill, they will tell you to “de-stress”.

But although many doctors see the relationship in other areas of medicine, it’s primarily ignored by doctors who tell you, to lose weight all you have to do is eat less and exercise more.

Sure you can lose weight, but maintaining weight loss is more important! That’s one of the reasons that 95 percent of people who diet and exercise end up losing weight for a while, but gain it back within a few months to a couple of years. And they also add “punishment pounds” for going on a diet in the first place. Stressful thoughts about what is causing your anxiety changes your body's physiology because of excess cortisol in your blood.

Your Body's Stress Response

The reason that the weight is regained is not just because you go “off” your diet. Dieting is actually stressful to your body! Within 48 hours of going on a diet, your body actually shifts your metabolism and slows to keep you from losing weight. This is an adaptive response in all mammals, that keeps them from starving in times of low food availability. And think about it, when you exercise, do you lose your appetite? NO! Mother Nature makes sure you are extra hungry (especially for carbs) to replenish the calories you burned off.

Woman cutting up one flower of brocolli is extreme dieting that puts your body in stress mode, so you can't lose weight.

Dieting is Stressful

You may not "think" that dieting is stressful in your conscious mind, but your body still KNOWS the truth. 

You may think that you are doing something that will help you lose weight by dieting. But you may be doing the exact opposite and sabotaging your weight and your health.

Read this fascinating study from the authority site, National Institutes of Health. You will find that most of the information that the Diet Industry has “fed you” about how to lose weight is inaccurate at best and can actually result in weight gain!

Findings from the study:

Dieting is one of the most common behaviors used to control weight. This study found that dieting is potentially harmful to psychological well-being and biological functioning. Monitoring one’s diet increased perceived psychological stress and restricting one’s caloric intake increased total daily cortisol. These findings lend support to the idea that stress alone can be the mechanism of diet failure.

Why do some people gain weight in the first place?

When you are concerned about your appearance and body weight it shifts you into an unhappy stressful thought pattern. Your mind is attacking your body! Your focus changes when you are thinking about food. No longer is food for enjoyment or to nurture you, it becomes a battleground. You think that some foods are "bad" and to be avoided. You have a negative mindset about food and your "need" to lose weight. Instead of having positive focus on eating for enjoyment and health benefits you are negatively focused. That's how the Law Of Attraction explains you are bring that negative attitude into your attempts to lose instead of gaining wellness and well-being.

The Law Of Attraction and Dieting

Mind/Body medicine as well as the Law Of Attraction shows there is a strong component of MINDSET that shifts your weight. When someone comes to me for coaching when they can’t lose weight, I ask them: What happened in your life right before you started gaining weight?

The answer oftentimes has to do with a stressful event: loss of a job, breakup of a relationship, some unhappiness has changed a person’s relationship with food. Many people start “treating” that stress by emotional eating of comfort food. They are using food to fill the unhappiness in their life.  Listen to how the words literally explain their feelings, and becomes what their body looks like. They are “stuffing” their feelings. They can’t “stomach” what’s happening.

The Law of Attraction also has its part. People who are dieting are unhappy with their body, the way they look, and are focused on what they can’t have. This negative focus is attracting exactly what they don’t want: additional weight and continued stress.

Stress eating actually makes matters worse, because the guilt you feel when you eat "bad" foods. You are ashamed and angry at your body. And that creates more stress! When you’ve been told the only way to lose weight is to "eat less and exercise more," the inevitable occurs. Your body slows down your metabolism, and extra weight is added. It’s a vicious cycle.

Thin People Eat "Bad" Food

Thin people eat what they want and don’t focus on what they “shouldn’t” eat. They don't feel guilty even if they eat junk food or things you may think of as "bad." And they don't gain weight from eating those foods because they are not stressing about it!

Skinny woman eats real food, fat woman eats only lettuce

Heavier Women with Disordered Eating


Then there is an even more confused and frustrated group: those women who chronically under-eat, and still maintain their higher weight. This is disordered eating. It can even get to a point of an eating disorder! But even therapists who work with eating disordered individuals ignore this condition in heavier women! It's as if they don't believe you can be heavy and have an eating disorder! Tell that to all the heavy women who only eat salad while their thin friends indulge in real food!  I was one of them!

orthorexia is clean eating of food you think is good but you may not like eating so you'll lose weight

You see these frustrated overweight people eating salads while their thin friends are having dessert! Again, the Law Of Attraction is at work here. Continuously saying "no" to food you want, eating less, eating unpalatable foods, and exercising more has made the focus of your mindset the opposite of abundance, of nurturing your self and your body.  Orthorexia and "clean eating" has become the newest disordered eating problem encouraged by the media!

How To Manage Stress

Is it actually possible to lose weight if you are stressed?  It’s going to be very important to identify, and manage stress. And remember, if you are “managing” stress, that means that you are already stressed! The best way to deal with stress is NOT to have it. That means learning new ways managing your attitude, and not allowing small stuff to stress you! When there are larger issues, learn ways to manage it that don’t include “stuffing” your feelings. Speak your truths, and express your needs. Remember, there’s a connection between you Mind/Emotions and Body that is literal!

Once you understand what dieting does to actually MAKE you overweight, you won’t fall for those new miracle pills and diet plans and make matters worse!

If you see the Mind/Body connection in your weight, you can help others by sharing how you handled the problem. If you know someone this article can help, please share it! Thanks!


emotional eating, stress

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